Summorum Pontificum, reforming the reform, and resisting the reform

Vote for Fr. Z!Pope Benedict, in his ongoing effort to heal the rupture that occurred in our worship when a composed, artificial rite was suddenly imposed on the Church, in 2007 put into effect the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, by far surpassing the provisions of Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

This was, on the one hand, an emancipation proclamation and, on the other, a great gift to priests and congregations.

Not all were thrilled.  I note in particular some bishops who, now that Summorum Pontificum is in effect, are now eager and willing to implement Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

Too late.  They had their chance.

In Ecclesia Dei adflicta, the bishops had much greater authority when it came to the use of the older, traditional books for worship and sacraments.  However, even at that time John Paul II, the Sovereign Pontiff, Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, decreed by his Apostolic authority that respect be shown to those who desired the older forms of worship and decreed by his Apostolic authority that the provisions for older forms of worship be generously applied.  Read Ecclesia Dei adflicta 6 and 6c.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait for you here.

Is that what happened?  Was there a generous application?  Was there respect?

All of that is in the past, of course.   Ecclesia Dei adflicta was ignored.  Summorum Pontificum is now in effect.

Just a reminder as to what Summorum Pontificum does.  (The Motu Proprio, still only in Latin and Hungarian on the Vatican website, for shame, and the accompanying letter of Benedict XVI.)

The provisions of Summorum Pontificum state that every priest in the Latin Church can say Mass with either the 1962 or 2002 Missale Romanum.  If a group of the faithful wants Mass in the older form, they may approach their pastors and their pastors must see to their requests.  If the pastor cannot do it himself, the diocesan bishop must help see to their requests.  Help … assist…. not block or thwart.  The bishop is relieved of the burden of decisions about whether they may have Masses in the older form.  Bishops have enough to do, after all, without worrying about something that should be left – according the the principle of subsidiarity – in the hands of priests in trenches.  Moreover, the Roman Rite is juridically identified in two forms.  If a priest of the Latin Church can say Mass at all, he can say it in either form, say his is office in either form, celebrate sacraments in either form.  It is his Rite, after all.

Again, when a group of the faithful request Mass in the older “Extraordinary” form, their needs must be met somehow.  The pastor is not to ignore them.  If the pastor is unable to help, and not even the bishop can find a good solution for them, the bishop is instructed to contact the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome for help.  The bishops doesn’t get involved in order to say yes or now.  At that point the bishop’s role is to help make it happen if the pastor can’t.

So, the bishop gets to help the faithful have Masses in the older form when they are requested and the pastor can’t or doesn’t make it happen.  His role is not to give or withhold permission.   The pastor of the parish may add celebrations of Mass to the parish schedule.  He does not need permission from anyone.  Under the provisions of Summorum Pontificum he has the authority to do with on his own.

That is a big change from the time of Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

Under Summorum Pontificum bishops can establish parishes which use exclusively the older liturgical books.  Nothing new there.  They could do that under Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

That is just a little background.

I posted what was above because I am still hearing about lay people asking the bishop for Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, and priests asking the bishop for permission to use the 1962 edition.  Lay people must first approach their parish priests and priests can just do it.

These provisions given by the Holy Father are part of his effort to heal the rupture in our worship and in our Catholic identity.

Whatever else they might be – like them or not – they are not options.  Summorum Pontificum is in effect, not Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

Now to the point.

I see that our friends at Rorate have provided in English something posted on the Italian site Messa in Latino about an Italian bishop, Most Rev. Luigi Negri, Bishop of the Diocese of San Marino – Montefeltro, who has some thoughts about those who have a rigid and inadequate understanding of what Vatican II actually mandated, who resist Pope Benedict and, as a result, resist Summorum Pontificum.

Coming from an Italian bishop this is pretty interesting.  Most of the time when we hear about bishops and Summorum Pontificum, we are dealing with English speaking regions, or France.

The piece on Rorate and Messa in Latino is pretty long, but it is worth your attention.  I will send you there to read the whole thing.  Go spike their stats and tell them Fr. Z sent you!

Here is a taste:

“I agree that the Pope ought to carry on with the ‘reform of the liturgical reform’ of the Council, to use Msgr. Nicola Bux’s expression. But it must be said with extreme clarity that the Pope is making efforts to effect this ‘reform of the reform.’ There exist negative tendencies of resistance, and not merely passive tendencies. The liturgical reform that came after the Council, more often than not, was made up largely of pseudo-interpretations, or else it caused exceptional cases to prevail as the norm: all of which can be seen in a single example, the problem of language or of the distribution of Communion in the hand. The fist of the bishops’ conferences have really and truly struck back against Rome. [“Ci sono stati veri e propri colpi di mano delle Conferenze episcopali nei confronti di Roma”] Certainly, there has been a weakness on the part of the Vatican in their reaction, due probably to the tensions and counter-tensions even within the structures that ought to regulate the exact interpretation and implementation of the Council.

“Now, while keeping in mind these influential facts, of which the Church’s government ought to take a realistic accounting, the choices lie between a socialization of the Liturgy—that is, an adequate functioning of the laws and customs of the Christian community united to celebrate the Eucharist, which becomes the subject of the eucharistic celebration, indeed the privileged means of their union—and a bringing back to the central place the true subject of the eucharistic celebration, which is Jesus Christ in Person. The structure of the liturgical tradition, which the Church of the Council has received as well, safeguards the rights of Christ and the presence of Christ. And so, all that is done to extenuate or reduce consciousness of the presence of Christ in favor of the modality in which the community is present, is a complete loss of the liturgy’s value, its ontological value—as Don Giussani would say—and accordingly of its methodological and educative value. When the first phase of the reform by Vatican Council II was in full swing, a highly placed person at the Vatican—I cannot tell you who, but it is true because I read it with my own eyes—wrote that now finally the celebration of Mass was returning to being “a healthy arena for Catholic socialization.” The memory of the presence of Christ, Who dies and rises again, Who creates a new people, Who sustains and sends them forth on mission: “a healthy arena for Catholic socialization.”

– Can you at least say that it was from a level higher than Bugnini?
“A much higher level than Bugnini.”

Read, digest, discuss.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Centristian says:

    At a “much” higher level than Bugnini? That’s pretty high. I wonder if this individual at a “much” higher level occupied his position up until 1963, or beginning in 1963.

  2. ghlad says:

    I could really have done without the last few sentences of mentioning a supra-Bugnini. Bishop Negri’s entire interview stands quite well in and of itself without utilizing this ghost figure, which seems to threaten to add intrigue where it isn’t needed.

    Lest I be too cynical, I will say that I loved his response about the will of God acting through the Vicar of Christ. What a great Bishop!

  3. Centristian says:

    “I could really have done without the last few sentences of mentioning a supra-Bugnini. Bishop Negri’s entire interview stands quite well in and of itself without utilizing this ghost figure, which seems to threaten to add intrigue where it isn’t needed.

    Lest I be too cynical, I will say that I loved his response about the will of God acting through the Vicar of Christ. What a great Bishop!”

    Well, I get a little tired of all the Bugniniphobia, myself, essentially because I think that “Bugnini” is really code for “Pope Paul VI”. There are many criticisms and accusations and insinuations that many would be reluctant to lay directly at the feet of a pope which they’ll cavalierly toss in the face of an established scape goat. But we know who the real target is.

    Why not just say it? Is it some great blasphemy to suggest that a pope, and not his underling, was responsible for the results of his own pontificate? Must we always refer to him obliquely as “an official at the highest level” or use Bugnini and other scape goats when we really mean the Man in White, himself?

    Of course there is resistance to an effort to put the 1962 Missal on par with the current Missal. Make whatever arguments you want, the current Missal was meant to replace the 1962 Missal, not to share the stage with it.

    Rest assured…”Bugnini”…is rolling in his grave over Summorum Pontificum. And his present day disciples are merely following his strong-armed lead.

  4. Nathan says:

    Bishop Negri puts into philosophical terms the question that I’ve wondered about for years regarding the liturgical changes of the 1960s and 70s: why would those charged with maintaining the deposit of Faith ever willingly change the emphasis of the liturgy to take the Person of Christ out (by de-emphasis) and replace it with “socialization?”

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that once the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is forgotten, the churches will empty. If socialization is the end, there are a lot more comfortable and pleasant places to do so than in a church on Sunday morning! I’m reminded of my campus priest in the 1980s, who used to ad lib the offertory, asking God to be pleased with this “simple meal.” I think I actually may have gotten up enough nerve to tell him that if I wanted a simple meal, I would go to McDonald’s.

    Wouldn’t self-interest alone lead the Italian bishops to go along with the Holy Father? Doesn’t the exodus of millions from the Church, especially in Europe, make these prelates consider that they may be out of a job, or at least face a huge diminishment of their relative influence and lifestyle, if they have no flock to speak of?

    In Christ,

  5. terryprest says:

    Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, perhaps ?

  6. Centristian says:

    “Bishop Negri puts into philosophical terms the question that I’ve wondered about for years regarding the liturgical changes of the 1960s and 70s: why would those charged with maintaining the deposit of Faith ever willingly change the emphasis of the liturgy to take the Person of Christ out (by de-emphasis) and replace it with ‘socialization?'”

    It does, indeed, make one wonder. I think it was clear that Pope Paul VI lived in horror of ever offending a single non-Catholic but was infinitely less sensitive to his fellow Catholics when he led and approved the sudden, jarring changes to the liturgy. I believe those changes were not motivated by a head-on attack against the notion of Christ’s sacrifice so much as they were motivated by the weakness of the hugely misguided need of so many prelates of the day–and of the Pope, himself–to placate the world. “Can’t we all just get along?” We’re all familiar with the type. I personally can’t stand the type.

    The need of such people to always get along, to always welcome one another, and to never disagree about anything, is, I think, why Vatican II happened to begin with. I don’t think the Holy Ghost had anything to do with John XXIII’s Council, to be honest. I think Pope John XXIII was cursed with this week-sister approach to the enemies of the Faith. So to Paul VI, and those whom he allowed to become the ascendant voices of the Council.

    Freemasons in the Vatican? Satanists? Nah. No need for them. That’s just a bunch of paranoid baloney. I truly get the impression that the many awful results of the Second Vatican Council have not to do with evil conspirators, but with weak panderers with neither backbone nor bottom.

  7. Flambeaux says:

    Higher than Bugnini doesn’t need to be code for Pope Paul VI. If, and I stress if, the rumors about Masonic involvement are true, “higher than Bugnini” could point not to the tragic figure of the late pontiff but to whomever was running the Masonic lodge in Italy at the time.

    Given how intertwined Church, State, and Freemasonry were and are in post-war Italy, this is not an unjust or “black helicopter” reading of the good Bishop’s remarks.

  8. Centristian says:

    “Higher than Bugnini doesn’t need to be code for Pope Paul VI.”

    The quote was actually “much” higher, but I quibble. True, Pope Paul may not be meant in this particular instance (but then, he may be) but what I mean to say is that some Catholics, reluctant to blame a pope for his own mistakes, are quick to absolutely pummel Bugnini. But when they do pummel him, I believe that many are actually, in their hearts, pummelling Paul.

    At any rate, given the leadership provided by Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, and moreover the very program of the Second Vatican Council, should we truly be surprised or even appalled that contemporary bishops should scoff at the notion of restoring the Mass that Church of Vatican II went to such great lengths to replace?

    Are our bishops really attacking the Holy Sacrifice? Are they attacking the Divinity of Christ? Are they doing what they do because they just plain hate so-called “traditional” Catholics and enjoy looking for ways to thwart them? Can it be that our bishops are simply mean and stubborn men who just revel in being antagonists to the proponents of the use of the previous ordinary form of Mass?

    Or are they just being faithful to a concept of Church and liturgy that was driven home to them in a very big way by four popes and an Ecumenical Council of the whole Church?

    Finally, is it actually the program of Pope Benedict XVI to restore the 1962 Missal, eventually, as the ordinary form of Mass? I think we delude ourselves if we imagine as much.

  9. anilwang says:

    Centristian, I agree 100%.

    Pope Paul VI was weak. He should have been as strong as the Pope who wrote Humanae Vitae which was met with ridicule outside the Church and even within the liberal ranks within the Church. That Pope did not back down when criticized, unlike Pope Paul VI….

    Of course, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae….

    The issue with VII are more complicated. You cannot assert that VII is invalid without becoming Lutheran (Martin Luther asserted that Ecumenical Councils were fallable at the Diet of Worms).

    So VII is valid. Note, even Marcel Lefebvre signed on to VII, so he has to agree. The Catholic answer to “the spirit of VII” is “the hermeutic of continuity”. If VII appears to contradict tradition, either our understanding of tradition is incorrect, or more likely our understanding of VII is flawed and VII might need tightening up. For instance, VII states Gregorian chant takes pride of place, but other musical forms are allowed. This doesn’t mean you can play pop music, since it never meant that according to Tradition. It means what Tradition says it means, namely other forms of reverent chant like Byzantine chant, Anglican Plainsong, Ethiopian chant, Russian chant, etc are also acceptable.

    Why things fell apart so quickly after VII, I don’t think there was a specific cause. Humanae Vitae should not have been controversial “within the Church”, especially before “the spirit of Vatican II” took flight and Church attendance was strong in the TLM. The “the spirit of Vatican II” should have been balked at by the laity and most priests and bishops, but they cheerfully accepted outright sacrilege Why?

    There was already a sickness within the Church, the sickness of modernism. VII merely exposed it.

    I submit that if VII didn’t happen, the cancer that was within the Church would have spread silently and undetected until it was too late to do anything about it. God rubbed our noses in our own heresy until we took notice our sickness.

    Now that the Church has been humiliated, there is hope fore restoration, the purging of out sickness, and ultimately health.

  10. Precentrix says:


    Maybe it’s the Holy Father’s intention that we end up with something along the lines of what was mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium? Just possible, you know?

  11. Centristian says:

    “Maybe it’s the Holy Father’s intention that we end up with something along the lines of what was mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium? Just possible, you know?”

    Yes, I’m sure that’s true; I believe he has that in mind entirely, in the context of the ordinary form of Mass.

    [Please be careful not to dominate the combox.]

  12. MicheleQ says:

    @ Precentrix “Maybe it’s the Holy Father’s intention that we end up with something along the lines of what was mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium? ”

    That would be my guess. The current missal never allowed for the years of organic growth that the mass has historically seen. So in some ways we need to take a step back but because what’s done is done and so many people are now attached to the new form of the mass care has to be taken or we will simply end up in the same place we are now.

  13. Socialization is a conciliar and pre-conciliar buzzword. Pius XI also used it, apparently. Tardini used it. I have no doubt that you can find it all over, and before Bugnini ever got in charge of Divine Worship, I’m sure plenty of bigger wigs in the Curia than him were throwing that term around. The Sixties loved their buzzwords just as much as the Seventies. Sheesh.

  14. Huh. Apparently “socialità cattolica” also means “Catholic social teaching”? (Can that be right?)

    If so, the idea that Mass is to be regarded as a grand time for Catholic social justice didacticism is certainly not anything surprising from churchmen of the Sixties and Seventies. Out of proportion and utilitarian, yes, but not surprising.

  15. barrett says:

    Fr Z,

    What do you mean by “artificial rite” in the first sentence?

  16. paulbailes says:

    It’s clear that antagonism towards the TLM and to those of us who seek salvation through it remains well-entrenched in the Church, despite the HF’s directives. Seems like the State of Emergency continues, despite what some optimists on WDTPRS may think.

    Centristian’s observation that “our bishops are … just being faithful to a concept of Church and liturgy that was driven home to them in a very big way by four popes and an Ecumenical Council of the whole Church” may well be true – and as long as that (revolutionary) concept flourishes, the emergency will continue.


  17. pelerin says:

    ‘If a group of the faithful wants Mass in the older form ….’

    I have just been watching on the internet a ceremony which took place on Sunday of the consecration of a new church just outside Paris. It has been built next door to the old one which was a temporary building built in 1887!

    The new blockhaus – sorry church – has the altar so placed that it would be impossible for a Priest to celebrate Mass in the EF – he would probably fall off. The altar has been placed very near the edge of the top step so the design has not taken into consideration at all the possibility of celebrating both rites. Sad. And I notice that there were no kneelers at all – nobody knelt during the ceremony. Although the church was packed Holy Communion was given under both kinds but in a way which made me hold my breath – each communicant was given the Host which they then dipped into the chalice which was being held at an angle. I have never seen this before in France and certainly never in England.

  18. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Pelerin, that’s called “Intinction” and I think it’s an illegal or not recommended practice in the Church. Anyone want to help verify that?

  19. pelerin says:

    Thanks Young Canadian! Have just looked up intinction and see that it is approved in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church BUT communicants must not be permitted to intinct the Host themselves (which the congregation were doing). It also states that communicants should receive in this way ONLY on the tongue. Oh dear …

  20. Baylor_convert says:

    Young Canadian, at best, what Pelerin described is do-it-yourself intinction. True intinction, in which the priest or deacon dips the Sacred Body into the Precious Blood and administers this directly on the communicant’s tongue, is perfectly legal in the Church, or at least it is in the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. Do-it-yourself intinction, on the other hand, is to be condemned.

  21. Pigeon Street says:

    ”When the Holy Father calls you, you may be certain that it is God Who is calling, and if He calls you to whatever reality He is calling you, it is because God considers it best for you at that moment.”

    Was the new Mass, courtesy of Pope Paul VI, the best thing for the Church at that time?

  22. teaguytom says:

    Barrett: “Artificial Rite” is a very fitting term to the current ordinary form. Even Cardinal Josef Ratzinger called it “a banal on the spot product.” Bugnini’s Consilium basically scrapbooked the new mass together. As is seen in Fr Z’s Propers of the Mass comparison posts, the Consilium cut and pasted parts of the century old propers and pasted them to the new mass in shortened forms and sometimes on entirely different days. The Consilium made a kind of ecumenical mass that is more similar to the reformed worship services of Luther and Calvin then to what Catholics know. The Calender was butchered as well. The last Gospel went, they mandated the Canon to be said out loud, something the protestant reformers did long before. They even tried to remove the Roman Canon, but Paul VI pushed to have it retained. Mind you, all of this was not done by “Pope Bugnini.”Like Centristian points out, Paul VI has some claim to blame with it as well. He promulgated the New Mass, so he couldn’t have been in the dark as to what it was.

  23. Ef-lover says:

    According to the pastor of my parish the extraordinary form of mass is ” not a good thing to have”

  24. Pete says:

    I think I’m banned but here goes: [I’d be happy to do so, if necessary.]

    This is all completely false – at least in practice – you all need to wake up to the reality.

    Bp. fellay already commented on what “de facto” and “de jure” means in respects of law and the Pope and tradition.



    An example, the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer can only celebrate the Latin Mass because their Bishop Peter Moran (of Aberdeen) his his expression permission. He has stated so publicly (in that best selling “””Catholic””” online paper).

  25. frjim4321 says:

    The Reverend and Dear Blogmaster is to be commended for permitting this high-spirited discussion.

    Personally I am displeased to read such criticisms of Paul VI and the bitter denunciations of +Bugnini, who among other things brokered the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis.

    With regard to SP, I am the pastor of a parish of 750 households and the sole priest. I had three semesters of high school seminary latin. Even if one parishioner came forward requesting the unreformed rite I would not be qualified to perform it.

    There are three such masses in the diocese each week, and I don’t think it would be unreasonable to direct such inquirers to those places.

    Meanwhile we are preparing the parishioners for ICEL2010.2, which will now include seven pages of errata sent to the publishers this past Friday not including all the corrections of the chant notation.

    Fr Jim

  26. barrett says:

    Teaguytom: Thank you for the response. I understand where Fr Z is coming from now.

  27. Hidden One says:


    I know a priest in good canonical standing (as far as I know) who regularly celebrates the EF publicly and is well known for it.

    His diocesan ordinary would rather he didn’t, and I believe possessed that attitude before said priest started doing so.

    And yet he still does, and even has the occasional substitute priest come in to do it as necessary.

  28. Tony from Oz says:


    I think you are confusing the actual law as laid down by the Supreme Pontiff in Summorum Pontificum, as opposed to the real politik ‘on the ground’ as evidenced by His Lordship of Aberdeen’s cynical power play – whereby he arrogates unto himself powers taken away from him by Pope Benedict XVI under the terms of Summorum Pontificum!

    It is Fr Z’s intention, in writing this piece, to clarify misapprehensions by both layman and cleric (and Bishop!) alike about the Church law now pertaining. Indeed, Bishop Moran is a classic example of a Bishop now, after 20 plus years, implementing Ecclesia Dei Adflicta (1988) the preceding law in force prior to Summorum Pontificum (2007). All in all, it is the Bishop of Aberdeen’s ignorance (or is it arrogance?) of the law, notwithstanding the humble behaviour of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer in playing the game according to his self-imposed ‘rules’. An abject and persecuted group being made to play by false rules on account of the politics of episcopal pride. Nice!

  29. Andrew says:

    Msgr Terence Hogan, the pastor of the Cathedral at the Miami Archdiocese has a different argument for restricting Summorum Pontificum: if I understand his comments correctly made here:
    He regards Summorum Pontificum as a document dealing not with public Masses, but only with private Masses. Here is a quotation:
    “Once again, regarding the private Mass issue: I contend that the rationale for Summorum Pontificium using the words in Art 4 “Celebration of the Mass…may – observing all the norms of law-also attended by faithful, of their own free will, ask to be admitted” are there for a specific historic and theological reason. It is my continued belief that the word “participate” was not used in the Apostolic Letter because the faithful would “attend” and be ” present” at the Extraordinary Form, which in most cases at pre-Vatican II parishes on a daily basis was a “misa privata” whereby the priest acted as celebrant, deacon, sub-deacon, server,choir, and assembly.”

  30. Precentrix says:


    Question: What is the ‘de facto’ difference between a public Mass (especially Low Mass) and a private Mass attended by lots of people, except that the latter should not be ‘officially’ publicised?

  31. M.D.R. says:

    The situation with The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer is a bit complicated, and therefore should not be considered as the norm. I admire them greatly. They reconciled with Rome at about the same time that I did.

    Pride may indeed be a factor in why the bishop of Aberdeen has not given the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer full faculties, but I think there’s more to it than that. Possibly the bishop is waiting to see how obedient and patient the former Transalpine Redemptorists are willing to be, and so far, they are very obedient and patient. Also, there is a small group of very vocal and “extreme” traditional Catholics in Scotland who persecute the Catholic hierarchy in Scotland relentlessly. I think that this is the main reason that the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer are still constricted.

    Just my opinion; I could be wrong, of course!

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